Winter Solstice Narcissus "Hoops" – "Limey Lass", "Treble Chance", "Lemon Flare" & "Julia Jane": 21st December 2015

The 51% shareholder in the business has decreed that I cannot have an alpine house so I have to take my chances with the weather. This year Spring is busting out all over. Continuing to track some new dwarf narcissus, here are Narcissus “Limey Lass”, “Treble Chance”, “Lemon Flare”, and “Julia Jane”. There is little to differentiate them in colour save that, at its very earliest stage at least, “Lemon Flare” is a touch smaller and a deeper yellow, whereas “Julia Jane ” has a slightly larger face. “Limey Lass” has flowered “together” whereas the others have, in their first year, tended to flower separately.

Would I purchase all the different varieties again? No. I would go for the cheapest. But then it is their first year and plants are notoriously difficult to assess first time round. And even as they burst individually into flower, missing out on the grand collective display, for a modest outlay and minimal effort, the combination of varieties do brighten up my winter table for the Winter solstice.

Seasonal and Unseasonal, Alexandra Palace, 19th December 2015

My car registered the temperature as 17ºC early this afternoon here in London. The highest recorded London temperature in December is 17.2 C. In the car park at Alexandra Palace I snapped daffodils in full flower. (The limitations of my ‘phone camera are clear to see.) And below is a more seasonal offering. Freddie is on the left! I know I’m getting older when Santa Claus seems so young.

Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis

I attempted to contact Tom Mitchell from Evolution Plants today to make an order only to discover he has sold his business. I was sad to hear this for he offered something distinctive. It was from him that I purchased  Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis last year. It came from Greece I think. Tom is a great plant finder and most of his plants were obtained on location. Due to my bungling it and some other bulbs were left at the mail depot for well over a week during their flowering period. They have survived. One is presently flowering in our garden, opening out yesterday. Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis seems very like my own seedling though with much tinier leaves! Mine commenced flowering two weeks ago and is still growing strong with a third bud opening out. It is also a tad larger altogether but snowdrops get larger as they mature.

Victorian Conservatory, Wentworth Castle Gardens, December 14th 2015

Completed almost exactly two years ago, the restored Victorian Conservatory is a joy on a December day. I simply intended to photograph a few warmer weather plants but got talking to one of the employees there who also collects snowdrops. Hot and cold then. The first image is of the newly restored building last summer, the second shows what a task it was. The remainder are a glimpse of paradise.


Rhododendron mucronulatum, Wentworth Castle Gardens, 14th December 2015

Here is a spectacular shrub we encountered today at Wentworth Castle Gardens. Rhododendron mucronulatum flowers early but this was very early. It is such a sight on a December afternoon. It originates in N.E. Asia and Japan so is very hardy. It has been surprisingly hard to source and expensive. I have however ordered Mucronulatum “Cornell Pink” and hope this is the correct shrub. The final image demonstrates just how much it stands out in a tidy if dormant winter garden and why we were drawn to it.


Narcissus romieuxii, December 6th 2015

This post will be a point of reference for me in that I have planted a number of varieties of Narcissus romieuxii in a sheltered spot on our patio. Displayed on a table in small pots they have certainly excited some comment. Diminutive flowers, each the size of a £2 coin, they are a delight at this or any time of the year. Of course, these are planted outside in a very mild early winter so subsequent years may tell a different story.

The first to flower on the first day of December was “Atlas Gold” seen on the left beside “Joy Bishop” which came into full flower yesterday. The image above is for the purposes of colour comparison. In each pot so far only one bulb has flowered although other buds are beginning to open out. A more detailed image of “Joy Bishop” is below. She is certainly a more lemon shade than the deeper yellow of “Atlas Gold” shown at the bottom of the page. I obtained the bulbs from Anne Wright’s Dryad Nursery.

Common Reed and Bulrush at Potteric Carr, 28th November 2015

One of the Yorkshire Naturalists Trust reserves and adjacent to my home is Potteric Carr, a flooded area situated between rail and road, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Formed primarily from mining subsidence from the 1950s onwards, it is home to a viable number of bittern. Despite many visits I have never cast eyes on the birds. Lots of reed beds though that have a fine beauty at this time of year. Bulrushes have always fascinated me. Look how they swell out and, remembering my stop motion animation days, I’m sure I could sequence images to show how they swell out and explode. Maybe I’d draw a bittern blowing them up.

Breezy Knees Gardens, York – September Perennials, 5th September, 2015

Breezy Knees is well named, I understand, as the gardeners who work the soil know well the cold winds that can blow over this glorious area of North Yorkshire. Anyway, these are some of the plants I particularly noted. I tend to use a digital camera instead of a notebook when I visit gardens. There are a reputed 6000 varieties on display at Breezy Knees. They were in prime condition on a warm September day.

Euonymus maximowiczianus
Monarda ‘Scorpion’
“Leucanthemum “Sante”
Rudbeckia “Viette’s Little Suzy”
Rudbeckia lacianata “Goldquelle”
Rudbeckia fulgida “City Garden”
Echinacea purpurea “Pica Bella”